My life is a never ending road chasing white lines, perfect lighting and good livestock. Until recently have I come to terms with my place in the Livestock Industry, and I guess you could say it may surprise you. I am a 5th generation cattle farmer and rancher. Being raised in the Texas Panhandle on my grandfathers Hereford ranch you could say I am nothing short of blessed. I was raised in the passenger seat of an old feed truck on cold winter mornings, in the stands at cattle shows all across the country, and on the road to many sales, or livestock events. If one of my relatives would have chosen a small path different, I wouldn’t be where I am today, because of their love and relentless passion for pursuing this lifestyle.
What exactly is this lifestyle, you may ask? It’s the early mornings and late nights, long miles, cold wintery days, blistering hot days. It’s nursing baby calves back to health, or shedding a tear when you lose one. This lifestyle is full of misfortune, and yet wonderful happenings all at the same time. We witness new life, almost daily, and in the same day will witness the closing of a life. We are the first to take a brow beating from PETA, or HSUS for what we stand for, but in all reality do they truly realize how much we care for our livestock?
My Great-Great Grandfather lived along the Volga River, in Russia, in a small German community. In the early 1900’s they boarded a ship looking for greater opportunity in America. As they landed in New York City, they found themselves on a train to Wisconsin, which eventually led them to Shattuck, Oklahoma, and then to Lipscomb County, Texas in 1915. Lipscomb County has been our home for all of these years, ever since their arrival. They began to run Hereford cows, through the droughts they were able to withstand the deadly conditions, and make it through. In the years to come they became prominent Hereford Breeders in the region, hosting many sales, raising many champions, and most importantly developing a path for future generations to follow. As it has turned out both great-great grandpa Alex Born and great grandpa Harry Born have been inducted into the Texas Hereford Hall of Fame.
The trials and tribulations my relatives experienced have become something I cherish, something for us to look back on. Their stories of hardships have taught us exactly where we come from, what brought us here, and why we continue to battle to preserve this life we love, so dearly. I am a livestock photographer, I guess you could say I fell into it naturally. Loving both livestock and cameras, it is what I was meant to do. Capturing moments for generations to look back on so that they too can relive the stories of times passed, just like I have. Going back through old family scrapbooks always brings so many emotions back for me. I love seeing the backdrop photos from all over the country, the photos of old sales, and events my family would host, or even the photos of harvest, the fields of gold, and the combines of a lot different size than those we have today. What made those days so different from today? I’d say it’s a variety of things, the work ethic was different then, a dollar meant more than we realize it does today, and the American Farmer and Rancher were appreciated for what they are.
Today, our Farmers and Ranchers are overlooked, and pushed to the bottom of the totem pole. They aren’t appreciated for their 12 hour days, for the food they bring to everyones tables, or for being a constant in American History. American Farmers face rapidly growing populations, quick changing markets, and constant resistance toward their practices. How do we bring America back to a place of love for these hard working men, women, and families? It’s not too easy I am afraid. The average age of the American Farmer is growing as the years pass by. These up and coming generations are finding their places else where, not that its a bad thing, but something I often question. As to if we, as decedents of American Farmers and Ranchers have made the right choice in veering from the fields, tractors, and combines. I guess that answer will never truly be answered.
I leave you with this thought…. What have we as young Agriculturists done to help promote our passion, and livelihood in the past 24 hours? What can we do to better our Industry in the days, months and years to come?